Alweg Torino 1961

Alweg Torino 2004


Alweg Köln Fühlingen

Alweg Fühlingen Heute

Alweg Monorail 50 Years

Alweg Magic Carpet

Alweg Opposition

KVB Takt im Mai 2009

Kölsche Technikgeschichte

ALWEG Time Frame - Transport industry developments paralleling Alweg's history
Alweg engineer Rolf Krischer spent a lot of time working in Braunschweig/Salzgitter where the famous railroad vehicle builder Linke-Hofmann-Busch (LHB) constructed the Alweg designed trains for the 1:1 test-track in Cologne-Fuehlingen (1957), for the 1961 Turin "Italia '61" Exposition and the 1962 Seattle World's Fair "Century 21". This meant commuting constantly between Cologne and the LHB plant. Quite often Alweg engineer Rolf Krischer travelled from Cologne to Braunschweig with one of these German Federal Railways (Deutsche Bundesbahn) express trains. (Photo of him waving from the window of such a train taken by P. and R. Krischer in the Cologne central railway station in the late 1950s.)

Alweg Time Frame 1950 to 1957

(More dates and descriptions of transport industry developments paralleling the Alweg history will be researched and added continuously.)

JULY 14, 1950   First Talgo train put into service in Spain. - For anyone interested in modern railroad developments the story of the Talgos is well worth looking into. The Talgo principle was invented by the Spanish engineer A. Goicoechea and his research was financed by an investor named Oriel - thus the name Talgo: "Train Articule Leger Goicoechea et Oriel". The innovative Talgo articulation system combined with construction techniques from the aircraft and automobile industries (extensive use of aluminium materials and monocoque construction) created a totally new lowslung look of lightweight railroad trains consisting of up to 16 short articulated cars. Spain's first successful Talgo trains had been custom-built by the American Car & Foundry Company. In Spain Talgos were further perfected (even attaining a speed world record for diesel powered trains on May 20th in 1972: 137.9 mph/222.0 kmh) and are to this day very popular and successful and have even been exported for service for example in Germany and also in the Pacific Northwest of the USA (Seattle - Portland). - Experiments with Talgo type trains during the 1950s in the USA (on the Rock Island, the New Haven and the New York Central railroads) were not very successful.

1952  First trial runs of subway trains equipped with pneumatic rubber tires on the Paris Metro system. Research began in 1950. The French railroad industry already had begun using rubber-tired Michelin railcars in 1929 and had gained extensive experience and know-how with this type of technology, - even running steam-hauled express trains consisting of lightweight passenger cars with special trucks equipped with rubber-tired wheels (1948). - Utilizing pneumatic rubber tires for railroad use had gained in France a further boost when Michelin developed in the late 1930s the steel-mesh enforced radial tire allowing larger loads per wheel. - Rubber-tired trains are in use today on several Paris Metro lines.

DECEMBER 1952   „The Great Smog of 1952“ drastically shows the world, how dangerous air pollution is. For five days a thick haze of polluted air stayed in and over London. During this time approximately 4.000 people died of respiratory ailments and about 8.000 more during the following months. A new study (in 2003) has concluded that coal combustion was probably the main factor in the deaths. But also emissions from diesel fuel had made the smog so lethal. (During 1952 London’s electric trams had finally been totally replaced by diesel busses.) “The Great Smog” represents a sad turning point in environmental history, - underlining the necessity of clean energy. (Source: “A turning point in smog history” by Eric Nagourney, New York Times, in International Herald Tribune of August 14, 2003.)

SEPTEMBER 1953   The Belgian airline Sabena inaugurates helicopter service connecting Brussels with Cologne.

MARCH, 1955   French National Railways (SNCF) set world speed record with an electric locomotive pulling three passenger cars that attain a speed of 331kmh.

FEBRUARY 1, 1957   Felix Wankel successfully demonstrates his rotary combustion engine, the Wankel engine.

ALWEG Time Frame 1958 to 1962

, the world's first nuclear powered submarine, reaches the North Pole. 

SEPTEMBER 14, 1958   A steam locomotive hauled train of the "Drachenfels" cog railway not far from Cologne derails. 17 persons die and numerous others are injured. - This tragic accident caused an unprecedented media echo in Germany. The question of responsibility for this accident became a major topic and again so in the ensuing court proceedings in 1959. The court ruled that the railway's operations manager and even the responsible civil servant of the state transport ministry's supervisory office were guilty of negligence that caused death and injury. Only in a later proceeding were these judgements finally revised and both men were cleared of the accusations.

OCTOBER 26, 1958   PanAm's first regular New York to London flight with a Boeing 707. This marks the beginning of the "jet age".

JUNE 11, 1959   In Great Britain Christopher Cockerell introduces the first experimental hovercraft, the SR.N1, to the public.

During the 1950s large parts of the City of Cologne still lay in ruins after the massive air bombardments of World War II. Cologne had been one of the hardest hit metropolitan areas during the war. Ruins were till the late 1960s still a familiar feature of the cityscape. Alweg engineer Rolf Krischer and his family had this view from their apartment livingroom in Cologne (looking across the street through a gap of two apartment house ruins to the German Federal Railways mainline from Cologne in direction south). During the mid1950s the economic situation of many Germans was still so adverse that here for example the neighborhood children regularly clambered up the railway embankment to throw rocks from the track ballast at passing coal trains coming from the industrial Ruhr-area. The thrown rocks loosened coal briquettes and caused them to fall from the passing coal cars. The children collected this coal and took it home to heat the apartments. An interesting historical footnote is that Cologne's famous Cardinal Josef Frings had in those days publicly sanctioned such "theft" by Cologne's citizens to help ease their living conditions in the harsh winters. Cardinal Frings' church career started as parish priest in Cologne-Fuehlingen, where many years later the Alweg Company developed its monorail system. The steeple of Fuehlingen parish church can be seen on many old Alweg photographs (see the "Fuehlingen Today" page of the German appendix of these Alweg Archives). When the American Alweg Company chose engineer Rolf Krischer to take part in the Seattle project he gladly accepted and soon he and his family moved to Seattle, living there with a view from Queen Anne Hill across downtown Seattle to splendid Mount Rainier! (Above Cologne wintertime photo of the livingroom view taken in 1961 by Rolf Krischer.)
During the 1950s the Cologne Tourist Office distributed a souvenir map that showed in the north of Cologne a small sketch of the Alweg 1:1 train on its test track. A nearby German Federal Railways line was on this map still illustrated with the sketch of a steam-locomotive-drawn train.

ALWEG Time Frame 1962 to 1967

MARCH 23, 1962   The first nuclear powered merchant ship, the American "N.S. Savannah", is put into service.

OCTOBER 1, 1964   Just days before the beginning of the Tokyo Olympic Games, inauguration of the new Tokaido high-speed railway line between Tokyo and Osaka in Japan. Regular average speed of the Hitachi-built trains is 160kmh. - For these games Japan's Hitachi Company also built the Hitachi-Alweg Haneda Line connecting downtown Tokyo with the city's international airport, stll in service today.

NOVEMBER 1965   For two days New York City experiences an electricity blackout that demonstrates the vulnerability of modern cities to power failures.

FEBRUARY 1966   In France "Aérotrain 01" (a hovertrain travelling on an inverted-T concrete guideway) , designed by Jean Bertin, reaches a speed of 200 kmh.

JULY 23 and  24, 1966   A jet-powered Budd railcar reaches 183.8 mph/295.8 kmh in Bryan, Ohio in the USA.

DECEMBER 1966   In France "Aérotrain 01" reaches a speed of 303 kmh.

While the Alweg Company designed its futuristic monorail system in Cologne-Fuehlingen steam locomotives were still in service on the German Federal Railways (Deutsche Bundesbahn). Here one the legendary German series 38 steam locomotives has in the late 1950s entered the Cologne central railway station's tracks with a regional passenger train after just leaving the Cologne "Hohenzollern" railway-bridge that crosses the River Rhine. (Photo taken by P. and R. Krischer)

ALWEG Time Frame 1967 to early 1970s

1967   In France "Aérotrain 01" reaches a speed of 345 kmh.

OCTOBER 11, 1968   Inauguration of Cologne's first newly built underground streetcar line, - meaning that certain lines of the already existing streetcar lines were put "underground". (The Alweg Company's last offices had by then already been moved from their original Cologne-Fuehlingen home to the Krupp Company in Essen. Alweg had never had a chance in its "hometown". The Cologne city council had even turned down a cost-free offer by Alweg to build a monorail line for the city.)

JANUARY 1969   In France "Aérotrain 02" reaches a speed of 422 kmh.

SEPTEMBER 1969   In France "Aérotrain I-80" reaches 250 kmh.

MAY 6, 1971 First trial run of a passenger carrying Maglev rail vehicle, developed by Messerschmitt-Boelkow-Blohm, in Germany.

NOVEMBER 1, 1971   Lufthansa begins using Boeing 747 "Jumbo jets" for its Cologne - New York service. 

MAY 20, 1972 A Spanish Talgo unit attains the world speed record for a diesel powered train: 137.9 mph/222.0 kmh.

SEPTEMBER 12, 1973 The German Federal Railways locomotive E103 118-6 attains the world speed record for electric locomotives reaching 252.9 kmh.

MARCH 1974   In France "Aérotrain I-80" reaches a speed of 430 kmh.

WINTER 1974   The German Federal Railways put into service the ET 403 electric units (only three such trains were built) for their InterCity Service. The units can attain a maximum service speed of 200 kmh. The four-car units have a total of 16 axles, each one equipped with an electric motor. The units feature air-cushioning that initially included tilting technology (later deactivated because of some passenger complaints).

Text und Illustrationen (falls nicht anders vermerkt)
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von / by Reinhard Krischer
Reinhard Krischer
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